Annapolis buses will soon stop running Sundays, but the city has scrapped plans to halve Saturday service.

Dozens of complaints from bus riders prompted city officials to drop plans to cut Saturday busesfrom four to two.

But Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins said the loss of $64,000 in state money forced the city to kill Sunday service and the city's "shopper-dropper" and cut the number of buses from two to one Monday through Thursday from 7 to 10 p.m.

"No one is trying to be difficult here," Hopkins told the City Council on Monday night. "We're doing the best wecan and trying to keep expenses down. We're asking everybody to pitch in even if it means changing their schedules to go to the mall."

While the city will eliminate the shopper-dropper, which runs between downtown and West Annapolis, a state shuttle service the city operates will pick up that route for two hours each weekday.

Hopkins said the city has continually bailed out the bus service since buying it from a private owner 18 years ago but can no longer afford to do soin the midst of the tightest city budget in years.

Fares cover less than a quarter of the bus service's expenses, andits deficit, now more than $1 million, grows each year, Hopkins said.

"It's time somebody stands up here and says, 'Please, this has got to stop,' " he told the council Monday night.

Hopkins rejected Alderman Carl O. Snowden's request that the city resort to its contingency fund to avoid bus service cutbacks, saying that money should be used only for "absolute necessities."

Snowden, D-Ward 5, who abstained from voting on the city's budget last month to protest the bus service cuts, alsosuggested that the city turn to the public for contributions.

In response, the mayor said he would ask the Greater Annapolis Chamber of Commerce about a possible public appeal to avoid the bus service cutbacks.

James Chase, the city's transportation director, said some1,100 people ride the buses Saturdays, compared with only 100 Sundays.

Chase said some part-timers' hours would be reduced but nobody would lose jobs as a result of the service reductions.

Some of the$64,000 cut by the state could still be restored this fall when the Mass Transit Administration finds out how much it will receive. City officials say they'll reinstate some bus routes if the state restoresany of the money.

Hopkins said he also has asked County ExecutiveRobert R. Neall whether the county would chip in money to avoid reductions. Hopkins called Neall's response "very encouraging" and said the executive would decide on the request by this fall.

The mayor got nothing last year when he asked former County Executive O. James Lighthizer for some $180,000 to help keep the bus service afloat.

In other business Monday night, the council heard testimony on Kinder Associates' plan to build eight town houses at Hilltop Lane and Merryman Road.

Residents of the neighboring Hilltop Village condominiums told the council that the 1-acre site is too small for the homes and that the project would worsen traffic congestion and harm the environment. The project's opponents presented a petition signed by about 90 residents.

"If we wanted the sardines effect, we would have moved to Baltimore City," Hilltop Village resident M. Patricia Yaniga told the council.

But Jerome I. Feldman, an Annapolis attorney representing Kinder Associates, said the project meets city requirements. "I think the opposition has an awful lot to do with the fact that this site represents open space for Hilltop Village," he said. "But it is not open space. It is not the playground for Hilltop Village."

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad